Make School Uniforms Cool Without Breaking a Rule

Big Kid 21

school uniformSchool uniforms are the stuff of kids' nightmares and parents' dreams. While I'm sure I swore at one point I'd never force my children into such a ridiculous conformist kind of attire, a) they don't know that; and b) I love their uniforms with every ounce of my being, and intend to send them to a college that requires uniforms if I can find one. 

I can't even imagine how much more stressful each morning would be if I had to argue about what they were wearing, why dance costumes aren't appropriate to be worn in public, why it does matter if your pants are on backwards, and that no matter how comfortable your pajamas are, there's no way in hell you're going to Target in them. Oh wait, yes, I can, because that's what our summer was like. So I'm thrilled that school is back, and that a "boring" old uniform is the only option for at least one of my children.

But uniforms don't have to be totally boring. In fact, with a few tweaks and little touches, any kid can still express his or style without breaking the rules.

Shoes The feet are the easiest place to start, as shoes seem to be the least regulated item when it comes to most dress codes. At our school, shoes just have to be closed toed and all white or all black, but there are plenty of varieties of each out there to show a little style -- sporty for the jock, while a nice black-on-black sequined Mary Jane might be adorable for a little fashionista. If color isn't limited, then a nice bright pop of color or fun pattern can add spice.

Accessories How far you can go with these depends on the school rules, but colorful bracelets, fancy socks, interesting earrings, or a cool belt buckle can really jazz up a uniform.

Gear If the clothing must be monotonous, then things like backpacks, lunchboxes, and cellphone cases can be used to express one's interests and tastes.

Hair From various cuts to different braids, ponytails, bows, and accessories, what's atop your kid's head can go a long way to tell people who she or he is. For girls, makeup and nail polish (if allowed) are also good means of expression.

Personality The biggest expression of who your kid is should be your kid himself. Confidence to present that to the world is the best accessory anyone can have.

Do your kids wear school uniforms? If so, how do they personalize them?


Image via MJ/TR/Flickr

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momto... momtolittleg

I love your take on uniforms, especially your final point!  As a teacher, I would love to see uniforms (except maybe for the identical twins I have in my class!) at our school.  But we're public, so no hope for them any time soon.  I would also LOVE for my daughter to wear uniforms- some of our mornings are ruined by the choosing of clothes.  Because NO you can't wear long sleeves in 100 degree weather.  Not after the looks your teachers gave me the LAST time I tried to let you experience natural consequences.  Sigh.

nonmember avatar Puggylover

Seriously? Uniforms are the worst thing on the planet for kids and teens. It's not their fault that your too lazy to dress your child appropriately. Clothes are a huge part of a child's identity and a simple "I like your shirt" compliment can help new kids make friends. When I was in high school, we made fun of the kids who wore uniforms to the other school, calling them little robots (brutal, I know, I'm not proud) and one friend made a good point. Catholic school uniforms are sexualized now by adult magazines and porn, I would be very paranoid to dress a child in an outfit like that. I am so happy I never had a uniform, I would have changed schools.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I like the idea that a uniform conveys. That this is a place for learning, not a fashion runway. That you 'dress for success' and it sets kids up to understand that their PJ pants or torn jeans are not appropriate attire for everywhere.


I also agree with you that it's possible to be very unique in a uniform, while still respecting the rules. I mean, Heaven forbid our kids learn to follow a few rules!!

Ember... Emberbaby

Yes, my daughter attends a private school so uniforms are required for both students and teachers. They are actually vey cute and they simplify my options, which I am thankful for.

nonmember avatar chrissyann

I personally love my kids uniforms, which are just basic polo and brown or blue khakis. It takes alot of drama out of getting ready for school and I think it also helps develop better relationships between kids. There is no pressure for the kids to dress a certain way or have the latest (and way to expensive) label. Not to mention the financial benefits for the parent. A friend recently spent close to 500 on new school clothes for ONE child. I only spent around 60 outfitting two.

tinyp... tinypossum

I love uniforms and we are hoping to get our oldest into a (public) charter school that requires them when he goes to first grade. I think it does set a tone for being serious about learning and showing that you have self-respect in how you present yourself to the world. Kids can express themselves in their wardrobes on the weekend. The last thing I want my kid to be recongized for at school is what he wears. I'd much rather he impress people with his mind and character. 

marin... marine_wife0520

Our country requires school uniforms and I think it's great! I think it'll be useful come middle/high school Elementary seems a little much but you got to start somewhere. My daughter wears cute headbands, clips and bows in her hair and has some seriuosly fancy sparkly shoes to jazz up her uniforms.

nonmember avatar justkeepswimmin

LAZY. You all are coming off as lazy parents, plain and simple. Your going to force your child to wear a conservative, stuffy uniform that covers their style and personality simply because you can't get up in the morning and make sure their outfit is appropriate? And you can think all you want that kids spend the entire time at school learning and focusing, but NEWSFLASH, they don't. Once they are in the real world with mommy or the school around to tell them what to wear, they are screwed. Part of life is making a first impression on people, and knowing how to dress is part of that impression. Its like another commenter said, the little uniformed robotic kids with no personality are laughing stock, particularly when they get older. Maybe uniforms are fine in elementary school, but once high school rolls around, appearances matter, even though they shouldn't.

Karen... KarenOlsen

JUDGEMENTAL & SELF-RIGHTEOUS.   That's what you 'justkeepswimmin' are coming off as.   (You too puggylover).   Anywho...I'm glad my kids wear uni's to school.  Instead of worrying about wearing the right thing or wrong thing, we can focus on education.   If that makes me lazy, I like being lazy then. 

Christina Allen

I agree with Karen, both of those comments are really coming off as judgemental.  I also had to wear uniforms during my school years and I have never had a problems dressing appropiately later. 

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